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Making Sparkling Wine

Making Sparkling Wine

What is the best way of making a sparking wine?

We are continually being asked this question, so here goes.

Wine Kits

Using a wine kit is the easiest way. What we would do is make the wine kit up to the end of fermentation in the normal way. When this has finished fermenting then the changes are made. When it comes to choosing a wine kit it probably a good idea to go for the popular whites such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. If you prefer a German wine, then try a Riesling and for your pinks you could go for Rose’s or Blush. You’ll find some useful links below which include a great choice of wine kits.

Country Wines

Similarly, if you’re making a fruit wine or one made from grapes it’s at the end of fermentation we need to move to this method.

If your wondering what fruits to choose from then you may wish to try Strawberries, Blackberries, Pomegranate, Raspberries, Elderflowers, Pears or Apples

Stabilisers – Do we need them?

With a traditional wine, when the fermentation has ended it would then be degassed. After this we would then add a sachet of stabiliser. The stabiliser sachet will contain Sodium Metabisulphate and Potassium Sorbate. These two chemicals are important for two reasons (and you will find them in nearly every commercial wine).

If you are having any doubts about whether your fermentation has ended, then you should use hydrometer readings to be sure. Watch our video ‘Beginners Wine Making Part 3 - Degassing, Siphoning & Clearing’ to help guide you through the process. It’s a part of our ‘Beginners Guide to Making Wine’ series which is worth watching if you’re new to wine making

Firstly, Potassium Sorbate. This will prevent the yeast from starting again to ferment if we were to add any more sugar. It’s important with the wine that the fermentation has fully finished. Many people assume by adding this it will kill the yeast. It won’t only stun it and delay it working.

The second chemical, Sodium Metabisulphate is a preservative which means we can bottle the wine without fear of an infection. Obviously when we are doing this, we can introduce air to the wine which can cause infection so that’s why we add the Metabisulphate.

If we want sparkling wine, it’s important we DO NOT add the Stabiliser sachet (the Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Met bisulphite) as this will prevent the secondary fermentation taking place. We want to make sure that a secondary fermentation does happen.

Degassing

We can still degas the wine but it’s not essential and we can also add the finings but again it’s not essential. Although, the benefits of doing so will mean less sediment in the bottom of our bottles. Using finings to clear your wine will help but you can improve to the clarity and reduce the sediment even more if you filter it. See the links below to produce a clear and bright wine using filters.

Degassing can be a bit of a chore if you are doing it with a plastic spoon or paddle. However, we can make light work of this by using the Degassing Tool which fits into a standard household drill and reduces time and effort considerably.

Bottling

Regardless of whether you have used finings or degassed our next step is to add our wine into clean and sterilised bottles

The bottles we can use are any PET bottle that has held a fizzy drink (Coke, lemonade sparkling water tonic to name a few), or any beer type bottle that has had a carbonated beer in it. The ones we really like are the Grolsch style bottles that come with a flip lid and we can get these in clear as well (we sell them in the shop in 500 and 750ml sizes). They look the part and are totally reusable.

Do not use standard wine bottles as these aren’t designed to hold pressure and can explode.

Champagne bottles are fine but don’t use the lightly sparkling wine bottles as again they aren’t strong enough. When using Champagne bottles make sure they are completely sterilised and use Champagne Cages and Stoppers to secure the bottle after add sugar.

It’s also important to look at the size of bottle you want to use. Once you open the bottle you will need to drink it all in one go so if you go for say 2 litre PET bottles that’s a fair bit of wine to do in one go. See below opening wine.

Adding Sugar

All we do is add the wine to the bottle and then put a teaspoon of sugar into each 500ml bottle. We then put the bottles (fully sealed) in a warm place (20-25C) in the upright position for about 5 days. What we are doing now is getting the yeast to start working on the extra sugar we have just added.

When it does it will convert that small amount of sugar to alcohol (only a fraction of 1% will be added to the strength of your wine) but when it does this it will give off CO2 which will be trapped in the sealed bottle. This is what will give us the carbonation in the wine. We can then transfer the bottles to somewhere cooler for them to clear.

Opening The Wine

When we are ready to drink the wine (hopefully this has now been nicely chilled) we need to remember, unless you filtered your wine very well, there will be sediment at the bottom of the bottle. We can’t do anything about this, but it does mean when we pour it, we need to be careful.

Best to get a jug and once open slowly pour this watching that the sediment at the bottom doesn’t get disturbed. When you get to right angles (of the bottle and the jug) be careful as the sediment will start to move. When you see it coming into the jug is the time to stop pouring as we want lovely clear wine and not cloudy (which will happen if the sediment comes through).

We think this is the easiest way to produce a good sparkling wine. However, you may want to investigate rotating your champagne bottles using stoppers and cages to trap the sediment.

Hope this helps!

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